By Jonathan Phelps
---- — BEVERLY — It’s not every day a panther goes missing from Beverly High School.
Well, a statue of the school’s mascot that is.
The 5-foot plastic statue was swiped by a few Salem High students around 3:15 p.m. Sunday during a regional cheerleading competition, according to police. It is usually found in the foyer outside the cafeteria.
Students reported to school officials that they saw students wearing Salem High football jerseys driving away with the statue, and police were called. Surveillance camera footage also confirmed the sighting, according to school resource officer Edward Hathon.
“I don’t think it was a planned event,” he said.
Hathon said Beverly High Athletic Director James Coffey reached out to the athletic director in Salem about the incident.
Less than an hour later, the students returned the statue to Coffey unscathed, Hathon said.
Coffey posted a picture of the statue on Twitter Sunday afternoon saying, “Guess who’s back?”
Hathon said no charges will be filed.
“It was a prank,” Hathon said. “I think a couple of people got a good laugh out of it. There was no malicious intent.”
For many, what matters most is the beloved mascot is back.
“The school is glad to see it back safe and sound,” Hathon said.
Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.